Kissing Bugs

Photograph of an adult kissing bug - Triatoma sanguisuga

Kissing bugs are members of the subfamily Triatominae. They carry this colloquial name due to their nocturnal feeding on the lips of sleeping humans. But they also have a large variety of other mammal hosts. Most species of this subfamily are only known from the New World.

The veterinary and medical importance of kissing bugs results from their ability to transmit the pathogenic agent of Chagas disease, Trypanosoma cruzi, which can be a major health issue. Chagas disease remains one of the biggest public health problems in Latin America, causing incapacity in infected individuals and more than 10 000 deaths per year according to WHO. Dogs may develop clinical disease as well, but are especially constituting an important reservoir for human infection, together with cats, rodents, and other mammals.

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